Per Diem/Haiku of the Day for September 2022 features Guest Editor Carol Reynolds and the Illawong Haiku Group collection on the theme of Country Life. This is what Carol has to say by way of introduction to this theme:
For some 14 years I had the privilege of participating in a country lifestyle while still maintaining a home in the city. A foot in both camps you might say. Such a valuable experience which inspired many haiku.
Born and bred in the city, like many ‘Aussies’ growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, I had country connections. Later through travel a deep affinity developed with rural Australia. This affinity is shared by many Australians and is apparent in the writings of it’s haiku community.
I prefer to use the words of our first nations people to say I lived ‘on country’ rather than I lived ‘in the country’. My experience was that of appreciating the land and learning from it.
Lasting friendships were formed with neighbours, mostly farming families, working land handed down from previous generations. We exchanged skills and knowledge with each other and I gained a deeper appreciation of the spirit of country folk facing the reality of rural living. The isolation, drought, bushfires, floods, plagues and dispatching of beloved animals when necessary are just some of their many challenges. While technology is playing a big part in the efficiency of agricultural practices, I can say from experience that communication issues are still a cause of frustration in many remote areas and the bush telegraph is still alive and well.
There are opportunities for the community to gather at sporting venues, church, the village shops or with local interest groups. Annual agricultural shows, equine events, farm equipment field days and the like provide venues to exhibit individual skills and promote friendly rivalry. On a more regular basis farmers might opt for a yarn at the local pub or watering hole.
Other day to day activities which city folk might find unthinkable are considered normal such as traveling hundreds of kilometres between towns for a weekend sporting event. When paddocks are depleted and the rain refuses to fall it may be necessary to pay for extra water and stock feed to be delivered. Then there are the animals and insects that are part of the rural landscape. Some encounters can be disturbing such as finding a lizard has been in your bed, a plague of Christmas beetles has shredded the line of eucalypts you lovingly planted or a dust storm arrived before you had time to secure your home. These situations might be perceived as folk lore in the city.
Sadly due to progress some country towns are dying, bypassed by freeways. Some families are choosing to sell up and move to cities for better job opportunities.
Country folk have a reputation for being generous and caring people, traits that allow them to continue to live in circumstances that constantly test their resilience. But when things get tough a day dawns with a breathtaking sunrise. A cloudless blue sky follows with nothing to disturb the peace other than the distant sounds of birds and animals. A picture perfect sunset ends the day. These are the panacea.
The anecdotes relating to ‘country life’ are endless and not restricted to Australian rural life. Together with members of the Illawong Haiku Group (Margaret Mahony, Alison Miller, Ros Pitt, Rita Potente and Patricia Meredith) we hope you will enjoy our selections sourced from Australia and other countries in the flourishing international haiku community.
See also our Haiku of the Day Archive.